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Big League Stew

In praise of the walkoff sacrifice fly

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

Brewers coach Ed Sedar holds up the "stop" sign as Nyjer Morgan heads home. (MLB.TV)

It was a great night for baseball's simple pleasures on Wednesday. Just before switching over to the great pitching duel between Cliff Lee and Matt Cain in San Francisco, I watched the Brewers beat the Dodgers in a thrilling way that I believe remains pretty underrated.

I'm talking, of course, about Nyjer Morgan's mad dash home on a Ryan Braun sacrifice fly with Matt Kemp attempting to throw him out from shallow center field. While walkoff homers get the headlines and walkoff walks get the witty blog names, neither can match the anticipation that comes with a walkoff sacrifice fly. We're talking about a ball hanging in the air and a cut-and-dry resolution just a few moments — and a couple of hundred feet — away.

Here's the play, which gave the Brewers a 3-2 victory in 10 innings at Miller Park:

In this case, the usual drama was amplified by a few things. There was the reigning NL MVP hitting the ball to a runnerup who some believe should have won in the first place. There was a late tag attempt by A.J. Ellis that actually might have been good for an out (and definitely would have been had Kemp managed a decent throw). There was one of the most entertaining men in baseball blatantly running through an apparent stop sign from the third base coach.

There was also the fact that Morgan came back on Thursday and said the stop sign was a "deke" to confuse the Dodgers. "Never underestimate the sneakiness, guys," he joked.

Look, there are many ways to finish a baseball game and all of them are ultimately satisfying to the winning team and the casual viewer. A bases-clearing double provides sustained excitement and resembles riding a roller coaster. Watching a walkoff homer  and its ensuing victory lap allows us to imagine all the times we played out a similar situation in our backyards.

But don't forget the suspense that's created when an outfielder camps under a falling baseball and the potential winning run readies itself at third base. There's really nothing in baseball quite like it.

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